1613 c/o Jason Lee Norman

First Born

On the day you were born we had been waiting for so long that we didn’t mind waiting a little longer. Those of us who were nearby looked at you and said, where have you been all our lives? We’ve been waiting for you for so long.

Your mother and father thought of what the perfect first thing to say to you would be. They wanted to say something loving and welcoming. The nurse brought you to your mother and all she could manage was saying I love you a million times through tears and exhausted laughter. When you began to cry a cry that sounded like a song they handed you to your father. As you squealed and raised your tiny fists in the air, your father just kept saying I’m here, I’m here. These were the first words they said to you and would remain true for the rest of their lives.

When the rest of us saw you for the first time we just kept saying, where have you been all our lives? We’ve been waiting for you for so long. Another of us remarked that you would not grow kneecaps for another two years. We all looked at you and wondered where your kneecaps would come from.

Before you were born, those of us who were available sent out invitations all over the world for our friends and family to come visit you. Six months before you were born we left invitations in their houses. We left them under stacks of plates in the cupboard and underneath the fridge and behind the stove so that the next time they had company or were doing some spring cleaning they would find the invitations and realize that you had already been born and that they suddenly felt very lonely without you in their lives. Others would wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of the toilet left running. They’d remove the lid off the tank and find the invitation floating near the bottom, inside a plastic sandwich bag.

Your parents wanted to tell you about how important it was that you were the first born. The first born is so important that a long time ago, in Egypt, the Pharaoh ordered all the first born sons put to death because he was afraid and superstitious. Nearly every U.S president was a first born child and every man that ever walked on the surface of the moon was a first born child. They wondered what the first piece of advice they would give you would be. When should they tell you that there is more than one truth in the world and that it’s possible to be in love with two people at the same time? That happiness can make you cry more than loneliness. When would they tell you for the first time about what taxes paid for or what a murder was? What would be the exact date that they say goodbye to you for the first time / for the last time? Your parents thought of all these things and more as they held you and let you squeeze their thumbs with your tiny hands on the day that you were born and we all had been waiting for you for so long that we didn’t mind waiting a little longer.

You were the first one to read a book without moving their lips. First one to break all our hearts. First one on the moon. First born in this country. Where have you been all our lives?